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Heart Kent (previously Invicta FM until June 2009) is an Independent Local Radio Station broadcasting to the county of Kentmarker, Englandmarker. It is part of The Heart Network owned by Global Radio.

The station has been broadcasting for nearly 25 years, subsequently being owned by Southern Radio plc, Capital Radio plc and GCap Media plc. It is now a part of Global Radio. Broadcast from studios on an industrial estate just outside Whitstablemarker and London's Leicester Square, Heart plays a mix of chart-orientated popular music and classic disco and ballads, with the tagline of More Music Variety.


Invicta in the 80s

In the early 80s, two companies won the right to run radio stations in Kent. East Kent was going to be served by Network East Kent, while West Kent was to get Northdown Radio. Following problems before launch, possibly brought on by the 1984 recession , the Independent Broadcasting Authority agreed to the two companies merging. The new company acquired an unsuccessful applicant for the East Kent licence, Radio Invicta Ltd, which owned the lease on a building in Canterburymarker which was to become the company's headquarters. (For many months, signage on the side of the building stated "Acquired by Radio Invicta". The word "Invicta" means "Unconquered" in Latin.

The newly-created company was known as Invicta Sound plc and was independently owned by a number of private shareholders. The station went to air as Invicta Sound on 1 October 1984. The station output was described as "Radio 2 cum Radio 4", featuring a mix of middle-of-the-road music coupled with a prominent news schedule where a news bulletin would last at least 9 minutes.

The station's heavy news output - possibly an attempt at stealing listeners from rival BBC Radio Kent was recognised by station staff as unsuccessful, losing a lot of listeners. After this disappointing start after the first few months, the station was relaunched as Invicta Radio in 1985.

The company's studios were based in an old warehouse and later nightclub, The Works, at 15 Station Road East in Canterburymarker, with a second, smaller base at 37 Earl Street in Maidstonemarker. Originally, presenters generally had the option of choosing where to present their show from, depending on where they lived. Plus, in the Invicta Sound days, there was some separate programming for East and West Kent, including dedicated Drivetime shows for each half of the county. Interestingly, some specialist shows could only be heard by one half of the county, including a classical music show and a programme aimed at children, called "Kid's Stuff".

In 1985, a general reorganisation of radio frequencies in Britain forced Invicta into changing a number of its broadcast numbers:

  • 103.8 MHz (West Kent) became 103.1 MHz
  • 95.1 MHz (East Kent) became 102.8 MHz
  • 96.3 MHz (Ashfordmarker) became 96.1 MHz
  • 95.9 MHz (Thanetmarker) and 97.0 MHz (Folkestonemarker and Dovermarker) remained unchanged.

The lack of a single high-powered frequency for the east of the county was because of international frequency clearance problems due to the proximity to Francemarker across the English Channelmarker. Instead three low-powered transmitters were installed in Ashfordmarker, Folkestonemarker/Dovermarker and Thanetmarker. This problem did not affect BBC national and local radio, which use a single high-powered site at Swingate, near Dovermarker.

A few years after the rebranding of the station to Invicta Radio, the station became known as Invicta FM. Soon after, separate breakfast shows started to be broadcast to the following areas:

Station split - the early years

As required by the Home Office to end simulcasting on FM and AM, in March 1989, Invicta Radio became Invicta FM and a sister station, Coast AM began broadcasting on Invicta's AM frequencies. Whilst the company name remained Invicta Sound plc, the expanding operation started to become known as the Invicta Radio Group.

Coast AM was an AOR/soft rock station under the leadership of ex-Capital Producer/DJ Kerry Juby with music programmed by Paul Stafford (Head of Music and "Living on Rock" presenter, 7-11pm weekdays), who left the station abruptly in early 1990. Eammon Kelly was the station's first breakfast host. A few months after the launch, Coast AM was renamed "Coast Classics". (Although the jingles sang "Coast Classic"). The service began playing more 'oldies' and by 1990 it became a fully fledged 'Golden Oldies' station. Throughout this period, Coast was a 24-hour live local station, but in 1991 it started taking a "sustaining service" from Chiltern Radio's expanding AM 'Gold' service, SuperGold. As a result of this change, the station was renamed Invicta Supergold. This helped as research had shown that listeners never fully got used to the station's name, many still calling it Invicta! A near-identical set of jingles from JAM were re-sung with the station's new name, and there were no major schedule changes. However, just before this change took place, and for most of Summer 1991, presenters at the station were instructed to call the station "Coast Classics Invicta Supergold" on air, to enable listeners to get used to the change. It became a highly popular station and once achieved a 17% reach in a JICRAR survey; some say much to the disgust of its Southern Radio bosses who, it has been said, preferred their AM stations to hover around the 9% mark!It too lost its identity in 1998 when it become Capital Gold. As Invicta Supergold, the station performed very well and became home to ex Invicta FM presenters such as ex-breakfast presenter Johnny Lewis.

Invicta in the 90s

In 1991, controversy was sparked as one of the famous DJs, Chris Ryder (aka Caesar the Boogieman), was terminated from his job over criminal charges related to theft from charity. He was ultimately found not guilty on these charges, but was convicted of intent to defraud .

Also in 1991, the Maidstone studios and offices closed and a few months later, the entire company moved to a brand new, larger, building just outside Whitstable. This was due to the company getting too big for its Canterbury home having started to expand its radio operations beyond Kent. By now it had acquired a radio station in Frintonmarker, Essex called Mellow 1557 (now known as Dream 100'), as well as a stake in a radio station in Boulogne-sur-Mermarker, Francemarker, which it had relaunched as Continental Invicta FM. (Some of Invicta FM's jingles were resung as "Continental FM" and voice overs appeared on the station by Invicta presenter Tim Stewart).

Shortly after moving to its current base, the station was acquired by Southern Radio plc which, in turn, was acquired by Capital Radio plc in May 1994. (Mellow 1557 was sold by Southern Radio plc a few months after it took control of the Invicta Radio Group.)

New rival commercial stations in the late nineties were awarded licences in Kent by the Radio Authority. These were TLR (Thanetmarker), Medway FM (Medway Towns), Neptune Radio (Shepway and Dover), CTFM (Canterbury and district) and KFM (Tonbridge and Sevenoaks). These new stations mainly adopted a much larger playlist of songs and, despite no major audiences successes, they gradually put extra pressure on Invicta's advertising revenue. Most of the stations also employed many familiar ex-Invicta presenters. These stations are all now known as KMFM following buyouts by the KM Group.

Station split - the later years

See also Capital Gold

When Chiltern closed its SuperGold sustaining service, Invicta FM and Invicta Supergold began sharing a single programme overnight. It retained its own separate identity by the use of split FM/AM jingles and an hourly out-of-news separate pre-recorded weather forecast, read over the respective station's weather jingle. However, the presenter simply called it "Invicta" elsewhere in the hour. This usually ran from midnight or 1am till 6am, although the later launch of an "early breakfast" programme on Invicta FM meant the overnight presenter would do the last hour on Supergold only.

Invicta Supergold closed down May 1998, to be replaced by the mainly networked Capital Gold. The changed happened with virtually no promotion whatsoever, apart from a handful of promos scheduled to run over the weekend prior to the Monday launch. A local Drvetime show was retained, presented initially by Mike Peters, then Peter Fielding. This was all ahead of the rolling out of the station across other AM stations owned by the company and the Kent site acted as a test station (due to its close proximity to Capital Gold in London), to ensure syndication worked, and to iron out any problems. Another change that occurred at the launch of Capital Gold in Kent is that for the first time, advertising was no longer split, with different ads in the east and west of the county, as had been the case since 1984. All ads now heard on the station are heard on both of the station's frequencies.

By September, Capital Gold could also be heard in Birminghammarker, Sussex, Hampshire and, not long after, South Walesmarker. A while later, the decision was taken to network the Drivetime show (presented by Tony Blackburn and instead local breakfast shows would be broadcast on each of the local Capital Gold services. Kent's local opt-out show was by now presented by Tim Stewart, who moved over from Invicta FM.

Ex-Radio 1 DJ Adrian John took over the Kent breakfast show in 2000.

A local breakfast show survived until August 2007, when Capital Gold owners GCap Media purchased the Classic Gold stations from UBC. Ofcommarker agreed a proposal to move the four hour local opt-out from breakfast to afternoons. Kent's breakfast show host by now was Neil Winfield who left the station and ex-Invicta jock Russ Lowe came in to present the 12-4 slot on weekdays. It's pre-recorded ('voicetracked') and is very music-heavy. As it is recorded especially for the Kent audience of the now-renamed Gold; station, it is able to include occasional Kent information and other references to the locality. Local news and travel remains in the Breakfast and Drivetime programmes, and local commercials remain 24 hours a day. All other output in now produced at the Gold studios at Leicester Square in London.

Invicta in the 00s

Capital Radio plc and GWR Group plc merged in 2005 and on May 1 of that year, the newly enlarged group was renamed GCap Media plc. The first effects of the GCap merger were felt by Invicta FM soon afterwards. New boss Craig Boddy, assisted by GCap management (Hugh Murray and Regional Programme boss Peter Sinclair), undertook a radical restructure of the station in September 2005, in response to falling listening figures and mounting overheads. Boddy changed Invicta from the style influenced by nearby Capital FM, to one which roughly resembled the old Mix Network. Invicta was possibly the last local radio station owned by the company (outside London) to be live and local 24/7*, escaping overnight networking and voicetracking at times when Capital Radio-owned stablemates like Ocean, Southern and Power succumbed to one or the other.

(*Excluding the short-lived Steve Penk late night show heard across the Capital FM network, a Sunday afternoon show presented by Cat Deeley and Edith Bowman, and the weekly chart show, currently known as 'The Big Top 40 Show')

The new relaunched Invicta carried the first of the GWR straplines 'The best mix of the 80s, 90s and today' from Monday September 19, 2005. The second strapline 'Today's Best Mix', was introduced on Bank Holiday Monday, 28 August 2006.

In May 2008, both Craig Boddy and Regional Programme Director Peter Sinclair left and in July 2008 former Invicta FM and KMFM Programme Controller Mike Osborne was appointed to the newly created role of Programme Director

On June 30 2008, following the relaxtation of OFCOM regulations on networking, the new owners of GCap Media, Global Radio, cut minimum local programming to ten hours on weekdays (from 6-10am and 1-7pm) and four hours on Saturdays & Sundays (from 8am-12pm). The changes signalled the end of some long-running programmes including Party Invicta and an increase in networked output, including the mid-morning show with Philippa Collins (aired from 10am-1pm). Andy Walker presented the local 1pm - 4pm show until December 2008 when he was replaced by ex night time presenter Stephen Sullivan with Neil Kefford hosting the 4 pm-7 pm.In common with most of its sister stations, a lot of modern music and rocky/edgey music had by now been dropped by Invicta, in favour of a slightly and bigger concentration of older music, as far back to the late 70s in a few cases and up to three 80s songs an hour; sounding a bit like a younger version of another Global Radio station, Heart. All stations affected now shared the same playlist (e.g. Invicta FM played the same songs in the same order as sister station Essex FM). The strapline also mirrored Heart's - More Music Variety - as did the name of the now renamed 'guess the year' feature, The Time Tunnel.

"Heart is coming", 2009

In September 2008 it was reported that Invicta, along with 28 other local radio stations, would be renamed "Heart Kent" and that most of the local shows would soon be removed, with just a local Breakfast and Drivetime show surviving on weekdays. Whilst the station was still known on air as Invicta FM, airtime on the station was (and still is) sold nationally as part of the Heart Network.

The station was amongst the final phase of stations to be rebranded, becoming Heart on June 22, 2009. Two months before the rebrand, the station was referred to as "The Heart of Kent". Two weeks before the rebrand, all references to the Invicta FM name were removed, and trailers advertising "Heart is coming" were played after every song. This changed to "Heart is here" following the rebrand.

Heart network programming is overseen by Group Programme Director of the Heart Network, Luis Clark, who was Programme Director of Invicta FM between 1999 and 2000.

Breakfast shows over the years

For some time the station ran four breakfast shows from Whitstable - Invicta Supergold, Invicta FM (102.8 and 103.1 and in Dover on 97.0) Invicta FM Ashford (96.1) and Invicta FM Thanet (95.9). The different programmes all took the same news and sports bulletins but had different presenters. This made it difficult for Invicta FM to promote its breakfast programme, as there were three different presenters broadcasting to different parts of Kent.

The split FM breakfast was discontinued with the launch of The Invicta FM Morning Zoo in 1995 - with Neil Francis, Simon Beale, Kirsty Long on travel and Stuart Thomas newsreading. The Morning Zoo was the brainchild of then Programme Controller Sandy Beech.

For a time, commercials continued to be split four ways on Invicta FM, with East, West, Thanetmarker and Ashfordmarker as the different broadcast regions.

The Morning Zoo was a fixture of the Invicta FM schedule for many years. Neil Francis was the initial lead presenter of the show until 2000 - he was later partnered with Sam Hughes (known on air simply as 'Sam').

From 2000, James Heming was the lead presenter of the Morning Zoo following the departure of Neil Francis. The last Morning Zoo was broadcast on Friday 22 December 2006. The breakfast show was rebranded "James and Ali in the morning" at the beginning of 2007, to reflect the move away from the 'zoo' style of a handful of people interacting with each other at once.

From May 2008, it was known as "James Heming in the morning", following Ali Wheeler's departure from the station on Friday 2 May 2008 to have her first child. Since November 2008, James has had a new co host - Gemma Shepherd - and the show became known as "Invicta FM Breakfast with James and Gemma". It is now known as "Heart Breakfast with James and Gemma".

Station slogans over the years

  • 1984: The Sound of Kent
  • 1985: You've Got It Right, Right Across The County
  • 1988: Tune In And Rip The Knob Off!
  • 1989: 60s, 70s & 80s
  • 1990: The Best Music
  • 1994: Betta... Brighta... Hotta... Stronga
  • 1995: Kent's Best Music

  • 1996: Kent's Best Music and More of It, Kent's Number One Hit Music Station
  • 1998: Today's Music For Kent
  • 2000: Today's Best Music For Kent
  • 2003: Kent's Radio Station
  • 2005: The Best Mix of the 80s, 90s and Today
  • 2006: Today's Best Mix
  • 2008: Haven't You Heard (off air only), More Music Variety

Station staff

The station broadcasts three locally produced shows during the day, with the remainder originating from studios elsewhere in the UK that are operated by parent company Global Radio. Predominantly broadcasting from Global Radio's HQ in Leicester Square in London, a list of the current 'Network presenters' is shown below.

Current presenters

From July 2008, only five shows (three on weekdays, one each on Saturday and Sunday) on Heart Kent are broadcast locally. All other programmes are networked, as detailed below:

Local presenters

  • James Hemming (Weekday breakfast)
  • Gemma Shepherd (Weekday breakfast)
  • Paul Hollins (Weekday afternoon - from London)
  • Neil Kefford (Weekday drivetime)
  • Claire Lawson (Weekend breakfast)

Networked presenters

  • Toby Anstis (Weekday mornings)
  • Simon Beale (Heartbreakers)
  • Neil Bentley (Saturday lunchtime, Sunday afternoons)
  • Nicola Bonn (Weekend overnights)
  • Jason Donovan (Sunday evenings)
  • Paul Hollins (Weekend early breakfast)
  • Gareth John (Weekday overnights)
  • Matt Wilkinson (Club Classics, Saturday afternoons)

News staff


Charlie O'Brien

Broadcast Journalist

Anna Jones

Past presenters

Local presenters

Networked presenters

  • Edith Bowman (presented 'Cat and Edith's Hit Music Sunday')
  • Benny Brown (presented 'The American Countdown Show')
  • Matt Brown (formerly hosted networked Sunday evening show) with Mylene Klass)
  • Cat Deeley (presented 'Cat and Edith's Hit Music Sunday')
  • Alan Freeman (cover presenter on 'The Network Chart Show')
  • Neil 'Dr' Fox (presented 'The Pepsi Chart')
  • Paul Gambaccini (presented 'The American Top 40')
  • Simon Hirst (presented 'hit40uk')
  • David 'Kid' Jensen (presented 'The Network Chart Show')
  • Myleene Klass (formerly hosted networked Sunday evening show) with Matt Brown
  • Dannii Minogue (cover presenter on 'hit40uk')
  • Darren Proctor (cover presenter on 'The Pepsi Chart')
  • Steve Penk (presented a late-night show across the Capital FM Network)
  • Jo Russell (Joanna Russell)(presented a Saturday show across the GCap One Network; now at Absolute Radio)
  • Ryan Seacrest (presented a syndicated Sunday afternoon show across the GCap One Network; still at 102.7 Kiis FMmarker)
  • Tony Shepherd (GCap/Global Radio One Network cover presenter)

News and sports staff

  • John Brunning (now Classic FM, a Global Radio sister station)
  • Paul Chantler
  • Leon Robins
  • Sue Flipping
  • Stuart Thomas (now at ITV London)
  • Jane Hill (now at Lincs FM)
  • Jo Blake
  • Richard Forrest (now at BBC News Channel)
  • Tony Shepherd
  • Alan Granville
  • Jenny Barsby (now at Smooth Radio, London)

  • Paul King (former Head of Sport)
  • The Mousse
  • Dan Marsh
  • Tony Doe
  • Tim Jones
  • Stuart Green
  • Will Barkway
  • Claire Martin
  • Tony Fisher
  • Jo Sykes
  • Steve Banyard (former Head of Sport)

Programme Controllers

  • 1984 - Roger Day
  • 1989 - Kerry Juby
  • 1990 - Roger Day
  • 1991 - Neil Taylor
  • 1992 - Johnny Lewis
  • 1993 - Francis Currie
  • 1995 - Sandy Beech
  • 1996 - Paul Jackson
  • 1997 - Clive Dickens (caretaker, assisted by Tim Stewart and Lee Price)

  • 1997 - Andrew Phillips
  • 1999 - Jeff O'Brien (caretaker, assisted by Tim Stewart and Lee Price)
  • 1999 - Luis Clark
  • 2000 - Mark Sadler (caretaker, assisted by Tony Fisher and Lee Price)
  • 2000 - Mike Osborne
  • 2002 - Rebecca Trbojevich
  • 2004 - Max Hailey
  • 2005 - Craig Boddy
  • 2008 - Mike Osborne

Past producers

  • Bruce Nevard
  • Lee Price
  • David Francis
  • Simon Scott


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